Installation Ceremony
Edmund Taylor Royal Ark Mariner Lodge No.296
The Masonic Hall, Adelaide St, Blackpool. Tuesday 17th October 2023
Here we go, looking forward to another trip to the seaside, Blackpool, complete at this time of the year with lots of lights, yes Blackpool Illuminations. Set off early as usual, went straight up the M60 on ramp, traffic lights on green, breezed into lane one and across into lane three, well what can I say, I’m just kidding of course, it was just the same old story, got onto lane 1 and fought my way across to lane 3 to get past the next two junctions, it only took about 20 minutes to get to the M61 which is about 7 miles!
From then on had a great almost clear run all the way to the car park at the end of Adelaide St, strolled down to the door of the Lodge but couldn’t get in no code numbers and it was freezing, does the wind ever stop in Blackpool, (only kidding).
Eventually a member arrived and opened up for us, we made our way into the welcoming lounge area where a pleasant young lady made us a lovely cup of coffee, brilliant. We placed our cases into the room being used for regalia, fastened all the buttons on my big overcoat and set off for a walk, went passed the Winter Gardens and on a little further but when icicles started forming on my glasses it was time to turn around.
Once back at the hall lots of friendly faces had arrived and were sitting in the comfy chairs having a good old chinwag, I made my way as usual having a good old nosy around, the Temple is superb and was set out with furnishings ready for the Royal Ark Mariner meeting, I have attended here before and must say it’s without doubt one of my favourites.
Time passed very quickly, the meeting started on time at 6.30 pm, the Worshipful Commander dealt with a few housekeeping items, then it was time for our PGM. R.W. Bro. Keith Alan Beardmore R.A.M.G.R. to enter accompanied by Grand and Provincial Grand officers. He was welcomed by Bro. Bob Bennett the Worshipful Commander and offered the gavel to which he replied that on this occasion he would accept for a short time so as to introduce members of the Team to all present. Once this was done it was time to Install Bro. Shaun Haynes Commander Elect, a wonderful sincere ceremony was carried out by Bro. Bob Bennett assisted by officers of the lodge, before appointing and investing all the officers for the ensuing year. The address to the new Commander was delivered by Bob Bennett followed by the address to all by our PGM Keith which is always well received.  The meeting came to an end and as is usual on Team visits everyone gathered for pictures to be taken to record the event, then it was off to the dining room with liquid refreshments in hand to take up the allotted seats for the Social Board.  
An excellent meal (including my own huge Salad) was served up by the very efficient and friendly Hall staff, nothing was too much trouble for them. Once the meal was over everyone sat back with that warm glow feeling then it was time for the usual Toasts to be delivered, followed by some first-rate responses. All too soon it was all over, what a really good night we all shared, then as always everyone was giving their genuine handshakes of friendship, saying their goodbyes and like myself looking forward to their  next meeting be it the Mark or Royal Ark Mariner, Stepped out into the cold night air, should be less traffic now and with a bit of luck the motorway will still be open, well on that score I spoke too soon, got back trouble free until arriving at the junction on to the M60 when those immortal words appeared CLOSED, had to drive an extra 15 miles to get back virtually to where I was!
Here’s to the next one to see old friends and those I have yet to meet, you’re only a stranger once.
Not a member of the Royal Ark Mariner Degree yet, ask your Secretary and come and join us. Mark Well.
Words by Austin N Fletcher and pictures by Austin N Fletcher  RAMGR and Tony Cross